Resilience thinking needed in our economic vision*

… to build a truly resilient future, far greater emphasis must be placed on closing the gaps where we fall short by building into our economy and community greater self-reliance, flexibility, productivity, and capacity to change.

Listening to Treasury and finance sector leaders at a recent forum in Brisbane give a near term positive assessment for our state’s economy, it occurred to me that the term ‘resilience’ is too narrowly focused on getting ready for the next disaster.

The BOM’s warning of an “elevated flood risk” for eastern Australia this summer with the likely return of ‘La Nina’ is not a matter to be taken lightly.

But while politicians and business leaders can rightly talk about resilience when strengthening disaster prevention and mitigation, much more can be achieved by integrating ‘resilience thinking’ into their broader policies and strategies.

Yes, we need to fix wasteful planning, development and insurance processes that repair properties only for them to be wrecked at the next natural disaster.

But to build a truly resilient future, far greater emphasis must be placed on closing the gaps where we fall short by building into our economy and community greater self-reliance, flexibility, productivity, and capacity to change.

Investment is crucial, particularly in education and skills that proactively engage with the powerful drivers of our state’s future – including those in our rural industries.

Standing still and harkening to the past is not an option.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley, has warned that without “a change in mindset around investment in scientific discovery”, we “will struggle to create critical technology industries and workforces”.

CSIRO’s most recent 20-year forecast anticipates a time of climate change and decarbonisation, escalating health pressures, rising geopolitical tensions and economic shifts, further digital transformation and changing expectations about government and business.

In that world we will need far greater sovereign capacity in science and technology and advanced manufacturing and services.

These are all items that should inform the agenda of the Federal Government’s forthcoming Jobs and Skills Summit.

A national apprenticeship scheme that delivers less than 50% completion rates is not acceptable, nor is productivity growth that is at a 60 year low.

As the most decentralised state, Queensland’s size demands an approach that emphasises and rewards local initiative and enterprise supporting even further decentralisation.

Queensland can only be resilient and sustainable if the vast regions outside of SEQ are not left as poor unpopulated cousins.

*This appeared as my Op Ed ‘View from the Paddock’ article in the Queensland Country Life Thursday 25 August 2022, page 21. It was titled “Standing still, looking to the past no option”.

Author: Professor John Cole OAM

Emeritus Professor and founder of the Institute for Resilient Regions at the University of Southern Queensland and Honorary Professor, UQ Business School, The University of Queensland.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: